Cherokee Nation Pharmacy Director Jeff Sanders and Pharmacist Amy Christie point out features of the tribe’s new central pharmacy’s automation system. Located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Okla., the system will be used to fill prescriptions for pick-up at all CN medical facilities. COURTESY PHOTO
CN to implement automated central pharmacy
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Patients of the Cherokee Nation’s health system will soon enjoy faster, more efficient pharmacy services.
A new central pharmacy located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee features an automation system that will fill prescriptions for pick-up at all CN medical facilities and be used for mail order prescription services.
Jeff Sanders, the tribal health system’s pharmacy director, said the central pharmacy’s automated system is efficient and capable of handling the large volume of prescriptions it’s expected to see.
“With this system, we will be able to fill 10,000 prescriptions per eight hour shift,” said Sanders. “It will open with a staff of 11 including four pharmacists, five techs and two clerks.”
Sanders said that most traditional pharmacies fill 100 to 180 prescriptions per pharmacist in a shift of eight hours. In 2010, CN pharmacies filled almost 1.25 million prescriptions.
With its conveyor belts and quality check stations, the automated system has the appearance of a manufacturer’s assembly line. The system is software driven. It sorts, measures and packages prescriptions for distribution. The pharmacy staff will oversee the operation and be on hand to assure the quality of the prescriptions the system fills.
Sanders said the transition to an automated central pharmacy will be seamless for patients and that there will be no interruption in their prescription drug supply. He also said he encourages patients to take advantage of the mail order prescription service available to them.
“We want our people to sign up for mail order prescriptions,” he said. “It cuts down on lines at the clinics, and that makes patients a lot happier.”
The new pharmacy service is scheduled to be in full use by all CN health centers by June 30.
SALINA, Okla. – Public art created for the Cherokee Nation’s A-mo Health Center by Cherokee artists Bill and Demos Glass was carefully delivered by crane to a prominent place in front of the clinic on Sept. 3.
Though Bill insists Demos created the stainless steel “Prayer Feather,” Demos said he collaborated with his father to create the 8-foot, 2-inch tall and 24-inch wide piece.
“Dad and I wanted to do this symbolic ‘Prayer Feather’ for our clinic in Salina because the staff is very friendly and courteous. We also wanted to do this in loving remembrance of my grandmother Jean Justice Glass, who was a trained Army nurse,” Demos said. “I primarily designed the feather, and he had a ceramics portion in it. The ceramic’s got an inset detail with a nice four (crossed) logs motif. It’s just our symbol for prayer.”
The material used was fabricated stainless steel, so it began as a sheet of steel that had to be cut and welded. Demos said he and his dad spent the past five months working on it and that working with stainless steel is challenging.
“It’s not going to let you do everything, so you got to use a lot of manipulation,” he said.
He said after the piece was welded together, he hand polished it, which can sometimes take months.
“I’m still planning and trying to get some of the time cut down in different processes, so I’m always researching. That’s what my whole philosophy is on art. I’m a contemporary artist, and I’m going to continue to research the boundaries of what I can do because it’s exciting to me,” Demos said. “I think the Southeastern designs are the perfect platform to use fabrication techniques.”
He said it is a benefit to use the minimalist, and sometimes intricate, designs of Southeastern designs and art used by Cherokee people in ancient times.
Gina Olaya, Cherokee Nation Businesses director of cultural art procurement, said the Glasses were commissioned to do the “Prayer Feather” for the clinic.
“Bill Glass is a patient at the Salina Clinic. He thought it would be good to have some place where people could actually say a prayer as they’re walking into the building, so that’s how the idea for the ‘Prayer Feather’ sculpture started,” she said. “I’m excited about this. I’m excited for the clinic.”
Olaya said there is a CN law that allows for 1 percent of construction or renovation funding to be set aside to procure Cherokee art for the tribal building being constructed or renovated.
“We had some money left over from a couple of projects that we pulled together, and those leftover funds are what’s funding these “Prayer Feather” sculpture projects,” Olaya said.
Three “Prayer Feathers” are being created at a cost of $76,000. A second “Prayer Feather” will be placed at the renovated Redbird Smith Clinic in Sallisaw, and a third one will be placed at the new W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah when it is constructed.
“The overall design of it will be the same, but the tiling that the Glasses are putting on the bottom of the sculpture will be different at each one of the facilities,” she said.
Olaya said she would work with the Glasses to determine the wording for the plaques that will be placed at the bottom of the three sculptures to explain the artwork.
CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the sculpture is “absolutely beautiful.”
“I think the important thing is that a patient here was inspired and felt like they wanted to contribute something to the clinic,” she said. “Mr. Glass spoke of how he appreciated the care the staff here delivered to him and his family, and I think that just shows the tightness of this community and how well the staff does take care of its patients.”
Demos studied metalsmithing and sculpture at the University of Southern Illinois. He shares an art studio with Bill in Locust Grove, located south of Salina.
Demos said he and his father put their thoughts together to come up with an idea that represented prayer.
“We know that when you go through the health care system sometimes you’re not really looking forward to going there, so we just thought it would be a nice thing,” Demos said. “Public art can affect people just by walking by it, we believe. So, that’s what we are trying to do. We’re trying to create good feelings here.”
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Healthy Nation will offer a smoke cessation class on Oct. 1 that is open and free to the public.
Those interested must register for the class by Sept. 25. It’s a six-week class meeting at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday at the CN Field Office located at 23205 Highway 66. Nicotine Replacement Therapy will not be provided in class, according to a release.
“To receive Nicotine Replacement Therapy, participants must see their physicians,” the release states.
For more information, call Misty Crittenden 918-575-6062 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation officials celebrated the opening of Redbird Smith Health Center’s main building on Aug. 13 after it underwent a remodel the past two years because of mold found inside.
Clinical Director Jerry Caughman said the remodel means a lot to him because he grew up in Sallisaw and is a CN citizen.
“I’m not only an employee here, I’m from Sallisaw. Both sides of my family, they’re from Sallisaw and we have been 100-plus years,” he said. “So these people that come to this clinic, they’re not only patients of mine, but they’re my friends and family. And so this means more than anyone can ever know.”
The building was closed in 2012, and its patient services were moved to different parts of the health center after the mold was discovered. The building was gutted, said CN Communications officials, with the use of Indian Health Services funds.
The building cost $4.4 million to remodel and will house dental, administration, a fitness area and public health nursing.
Connie Davis, CN Health Services executive director, said the tribe’s administration, Tribal Council and Health Services have made the expansion of health services a priority.
“The Redbird Smith renovation and expansion will not only serve more patients, but also offer programs such as mammography and physical therapy that patients normally would have to be referred to Tahlequah or other health centers to get,” she said. “I’m very proud of this expansion, and it’s just the first of many more to come for our overall health centers.”
Tribal Councilor Janelle Fulbright said the new services the facility will offer is something she and patients have waited a long time for.
“I’ve been on the council seven years and one of things I really, really wanted when I got on the council was a dialysis center. It took four years, but we accomplished that and helped so many people,” she said. “We’ve got top notch care for our people. When they come here they can rest assured they’re getting some of the finest.”
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said “citizens deserve world-class care” and the expansions and remodels represent that.
“This will ensure we offer treatment as effectively and efficiently as possible when patients come for health care services. This is the most important long-term investment we can make as a tribal government,” he said. “More importantly, this expansion allows our health center to accommodate more people day in and day out.”
A new annex is also being constructed behind the main building. When finished, the center will go from 33,000 square feet to more than 60,000 square feet.
Its cost totals about $11 million, making the entire construction at Redbird Smith more than $15 million.
The health center opened in 1992, according to CN Communications. In 2013, it served more than 100,000 patients. After renovations, that number is expected to rise.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton will passed her crown to the new Miss Cherokee on Aug. 23. Thornton has served as Miss Cherokee for nearly a year, visiting different areas of the United States. However, in April, she was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, a type of cancer that attacks muscle and bones.
“It’s a type of cancer that causes tumors that are connected to your lymph nodes and your bones,” Thornton said. “It looks like a knot on your skin and usually they turn black and they raise up.”
But having cancer hasn’t slowed her. She said despite the diagnosis she’s remained busy with classes at Northeastern State University and is maintaining her grades, earning all A’s.
Thornton said both sides of her family has endured cancer, so she has always been careful and watchful about her body.
“My grandfather just recently passed away of stomach cancer, and a few years ago my other grandpa died of lung cancer,” she said. “So my family has always taught me to watch my body, and if something is wrong, you know, go to the doctor and make sure it’s all checked out.”
She said this spring she noticed a small knot on her thigh and visited the doctor to determine what it was.
“They said that ‘it’s just the keloids, just watch it.’ If it got bigger or anything and if it did then to come back,” Thornton said.
Keloids are a formation of a type of scar. The scar overgrows tissue at the site of a healed skin injury. It tends to affect more people of a darker pigmentation. She said she’s had keloids since a young age and that she watched the area closely. After the knot changed she returned to the doctor.
“Well it got bigger and it got to the size of a half dollar size and it turned black and it raised up,” she added. “So I went to the doctor and they performed a biopsy and they removed the tumor and (I’ve) been going through treatment ever since.”
Her treatment has consisted of chemotherapy injections as well as radiation in the form of pills. Depending on the month, she said she takes one chemo injection every two weeks.
“So like, sometimes I’ll go like once a month in a big dose or I’ll do once every two weeks in small doses. Now I’m doing just once a week (on the radiation pill),” she added. “Yeah, the medicine is working.”
The biggest issue she’s had while going through treatment is exhaustion.
“Everyday I would get tired. I can never get enough sleep it feels like. I guess like depending on the day that I get treatment, I get really moody,” she said.
She hopes her treatments will stop this fall. As for now, her goals are to continue with her classes, graduate in 2017 with a major in criminal justice and double minor in police force and homeland security. Her goal is to become a Cherokee Nation marshal when she turns 21.
Her suggestion for kids and adults is to keep a close watch on one’s body.
“But also just knowing your body, and what’s non-normal. Because like, when I got diagnosed with sarcoma, part of the whole treatment process is that you have to get pat downs every month to make sure that you don’t have any new spots as well,” she said. “Know their body. Know what’s not normal. Know if something’s out of place. Notice new spots on you or new bumps. If you don’t think something is supposed to be there, it’s probably not and you need to go to the doctor and get that checked out.”
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
SALINA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Robert Jackson, 40, has lived his whole life facing health problems. He was born at the Claremore Indian Hospital with a single ventricle in his heart. This caused heart- and lung-related problems.
He had Transpiration of the Great Vessels, in which the aorta and pulmonary arteries are switched. It caused hypertension on the artery connecting to his lungs, which caused his lung problems.
Jackson said his whole life doctors told him he had limited time, but this did not stop him from being a “normal” child.
“I went to school just like a normal kid. When I got to go to school,” he said. “My early years were pretty bad. They (doctors) always told me that I wouldn’t live until I was 9, 12 and 18.”
By Jackson’s teen years he said he began refusing medications.
“I began to rebel and refused the meds. I wanted to be like everyone else,” he said. “I learned how to function with my limits and blend in with the other teens. I graduated high school and got a job. I wanted to better myself.”
He later married, fathered children and lived a normal life. But in the late 1990s, he came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Pryor. While there, doctors encouraged him to seek treatment at the Oklahoma Heart Institute in Tulsa. He said this was the first time he was told he had a serious heart problem.
“I really didn’t understand the situation,” he said. “No one pushed me to follow up on their recommendations, so I went back to living.”
In 2005, Jackson said he thought he had a serious sinus infection that caused him to struggle to breathe. His wife Dot took him to the Claremore Indian Hospital where doctors learned he suffered a heart attack.
“I was transported to Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, by 2 a.m. in the morning a group of doctors from Oklahoma Heart Institute were at the foot of my bed. They stated that I needed to go to a specialty hospital because I needed a heart transplant or would be lucky to live two more years,” Jackson said.
He and his wife began piecing together a plan to get him what he needed to live. During this time they encountered Dr. Brian Cole, a cardiologist at Tahlequah City Hospital.
Cole completed his residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. This is where Jackson would need to go to receive his transplant.
“He stayed on the phone with them that very day until he could get me an appointment because you cannot see them without a referral,” Jackson said.
Jackson traveled to St. Louis to visit the hospital and found that not only did he need a heart transplant but also a double lung transplant.
Since then, he and his wife have made multiple trips to B-JH for tests and appointments. In 2013, he began having more health problems, resulting in him moving up the transplant list.
In 2014, the couple has made three weeklong trips to the hospital. Jackson’s next appointment was set for July 30 when doctors were to evaluate him a last time for a status on the transplant list.
“During my last visit there I was told either go for the transplant or go home and wait for the stroke or heart attack that is about to happen,” he said. “I choose to live.”
The transplant must be conducted in St. Louis because there are no Oklahoma hospitals that perform the surgery. This has caused Jackson to run into financial problems.
“Right now we’re calling a lot of people, trying to get donations and stuff like that,” he said. “Love to get Cherokee Nation to help because the living expenses is going to be terrible up there. I might be up there a year. I could be up there two years. You just don’t get it as soon as you walk in the door. You’re on a waiting list, and you got to be matched up with somebody.”
The couple is holding fundraisers for living expenses for when going to St. Louis. Dot said there are specified apartments that cost $450 a month for those awaiting transplants.
She said she’s hoping to conduct fundraisers in September, including one at the Salina Highbanks Speedway. For more information about donating, call 918-521-2733 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Health Services held a surprise lunch on June 11 at the Cherokee Springs Grill for Dr. Charles Grim, Health Services deputy executive director, to celebrate “Charles W. Grim Day.” In 2003, former Gov. Brad Henry dedicated the date in honor of Grim.
Grim said when that occurred it was during his Senate confirmation hearing for his director of Indian Health Service.
He said usually when a presidential appointee gets nominated either one or both of the senators from the appointee’s state come in and introduce the nominee to the committee before the hearing.
“So the two senators from the state of Oklahoma came in and were setting on either side of me and were saying something nice about me. And prior to the meeting I had to go meet with each of them separate, so they got to know me a little better,” he said.
Grim said during the hearing the two Republican senators approved of his appointment to IHS and said they agreed with Gov. Henry’s dedicating June 11 as “Charles W. Grim Day” in Oklahoma.
“That’s kind of how they ended their talk about me, and I was surprised and shocked and didn’t even know you could do such a thing. But I felt very humbled and very honored by it,” Grim said.
Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the department decided to celebrate Grim because of him being an asset to Health Services, as well as for it being “Dr. Charles W. Grim Day.”
“He was appointed by President (George W.) Bush to that position, and you know we’re just honored that he helps us run this health system. I couldn’t do it without him,” Davis said. “He’s a great resource and a great friend.”
Grim said it was a surprise and honor that his fellow workers honored him on his day.
“For this group of people to remember that or to know that even and then do it, I was just sitting here thinking what a special group of people I really work with,” he said.